Third installment of holiday 5K held in St. Joseph goes virtual

While the Coronavirus pandemic has put the kibosh on a lot of events, it is not stopping Brenda Hixson from raising money for the St. Joseph Food Bank. The St. Joe Santa 5K will run on - online that is.

Proceeds from the race in past years was given to help support the local St. Joseph food bank pantry managed by the St. Joseph Methodist Church in partnership with the Eastern Illinois Foodbank.

The race was originally started as collaboration of efforts between Hixson and fellow runner Max Painter to host a local holiday race and raise money for local charities. The event this year will benefit the St. Joe Feed the Need program, which is managed by the First United Methodist Church through the Eastern Illinois Food Bank. Feed the Need provides free food each month to anyone in the community.

Runners start out on the St. Joe Santa 5K course
Runners start their run during the Ho Ho Ho 5k, now called the St. Joe VIRTUAL Santa 5k Run/Walk Race, in 2018. As with thousands of established running events around the country, this year's race will be hosted virtually. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

A virtual race may not be ideal without spectators to cheer you on and fellow runners to push you to a better time, but there is one big advantage to running a virtual race in central Illinois.

This year's race directors point out the big draw to participating this year is that you can run when you want the whole month of December. "You can wait for a day when the weather is favorable!" which makes this option awesome so ensure you are not running on what could be the coldest day of the month.

The directors also hope runners will "get your family or group of friends together and have a fun run with photos along the way!"

The best part is racers will still receive the best holiday race swag of the season. This year's swag bag includes a Santa hat, Santa neck gaiter, a red long-sleeve Santa shirt and a race medal.

Runners can choose their route and take to the streets in their neighborhood, at their favorite park, or at any safe location of their choosing to run/walk/jog to start and finish their course during the month of December.

"You can chose to run anywhere!" said Hixson, who is once again one of the race directors. "Run in Mahomet; on a trail at Allerton or Meadowbrook; in Champaign; in St. Joe or wherever you chose. We want to see [runners in] every town in their Santa race swag all month long!"

She added: "Post your pictures!"

Race registration is now open online at St. Joe Santa 5K. Once registered, race swag can picked up in person or ordered via mail.

If you are interested in being a sponsor for the event and want to help support a wonderful program in the community, business owners or individuals are asked to contact the race directors at

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